Trinis masters of the game
It was a Trini double in the Banks Barbados International Masters Football Festival as Trinidadian sides Era Masters TT and X Men TT captured the Over-40s and Over-50s titles, respectively, on Whit Monday evening.
The 22nd edition of the festival, held for the first time ever at the Barbados Polo Club in Holders Hill, came to its conclusion after four days of intense action.
Era Masters swept local boys Bayland 4-0 in the Over-40s final, while the recently introduced Over-50s championship was retained by X Men TT, also last year’s winners, who defeated Pele Masters of the United Sates 4-2 on penalties in the final after a 1-1 draw at the end of normal time.
“The tournament has grown tremendously, and great thanks must be given to the Barbados Polo Club, who consented to us having the festival here for the first time ever,” said Adrian Donovan, one-third of the organising committee, along with Paul “Starsky” Wright and Grant “Gloom” Trebble.
“Judging from the feedback from patrons and participants and from the numbers we have seen, we are happy about the festival as a whole and the growth of sports tourism and the contribution of the festival to the hotel sector, restaurant sector and the Barbadian economy as a whole.”
Twenty-two overseas teams and their supporters made the trip for the annual festival and though local fans were delighted to have a representative in the final in Bayland Masters, led by the energetic John “Nobby” Parris, they were no match for Era Masters’ craftiness.
Tournament rules dictate the players are to play 30 minutes per half, and Era Masters unlocked the Bayland defence just before the break in the 29th minute.
Marlon Yearwood’s daring overhead kick sailed over goalkeeper Morrison Taylor, struck the crossbar and rebounded off the goalkeeper into the net.
Era then dominated the opening stages of the second half and soon extended their lead.
Mark Moss’ thunderous header from close range in the 43rd minute was closely followed by former St Lucia international Earl Jean’s long distance effort in the 45th.
Five minutes later Roger Henry solidified the championship with a similar attempt from distance with his left foot into the far left corner well out of the custodian’s reach.
A carnival mood engulfed the massive crowd at the plush grounds as Era Masters celebrated their first title, replacing Vincy Masters, the 2017 winners.
The tournament’s Most Valuable Player was a unanimous decision in favour of Era Masters goalkeeper Trevor Nottingham, who did not concede a single goal for the entirety of the festival.
In other finals decided on Monday, Toronto FC of Friends from Canada defeated local boys Carlton ATP 2-0 in the Over-50s plate while newcomers Violet Tourers of Jamaica triumphed 3-1 over Christ Church-based Gall Hill Legends in the Over-40s plate.